Arsene Wenger has revealed the latest Arsenal team news ahead of our trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon. There is only one change from the squad that won 1-0 over Swansea yesterday evening. Laurent Koscielny returns to the squad after serving a 1-match ban after being sent off against Manchester City.Rosicky & Arteta are still out.
“We have four days and we will have to see how everybody responds to last night. There will be maybe a little bit but not much rotation because we have from last night the same squad. Just Koscielny will come back.
“Rosicky is not fit enough to come back for Sunday and Arteta is not fit enough to come back for Sunday. And Fabianski is still out, so there will not be much rotation.”
Laurent Koscielny’s red card cleared up:
Many of you will be wondering why Koscielny only served a 1-match ban for a straight red. So I did some digging and scanned through the FA handbook and disciplinary procedures to see if there is any useful information.
Below is a screenshot from the handbook that explains the different charges for red cards pretty concisely. Koscielny only received a 1-game ban for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.
Arsene Wenger has revealed the latest team news ahead of tonight’s FA Cup 3rd round replay against Swansea. There are no new injury concerns from the 2-0 loss to Manchester City, and there is finally some news on Tomas Rosicky, who was left out of the squad on Sunday. Mikel Arteta could be back from his calf injury sooner than expected, Laurent Koscielny is suspended and Fabianski is nearing a return. Wenger also confirmed that Jack Wilshere is unlikely to be rested during this busy period, but conceded that he may have to be rested at some point.
“We have Koscielny suspended for tomorrow night and everybody else will be available. He will be replaced in the squad by Arshavin.”
“Arteta’s injury could be shorter than three weeks because it’s a minor calf strain. It’s a light grade one so it could be quicker than three weeks.”
“Rosicky is still out. He has a little calf problem. I wanted to involve him tomorrow night but it’s too short.”
“Maybe [I won't rest him] in this period, but at some stage I will do it. At the moment I don’t think he is overloaded because he just came back very recently, and you get the feeling that he gets stronger.
“We have a good approach taking the physical analysis and statistical analysis between what the player feels and what the medical department thinks, and you have to come to a conclusion on that. At the moment, all these three are positives so I don’t think at the moment I will rest him immediately. But it will happen.”
“He’s the only one injured, along with Arteta now. He’s one more week away from full training I think.”
Click here to see my predicted starting XI.The FA Cup represents our most likely opportunity at some silverware this season, so Wenger will probably play quite a strong team. However, that means that players cannot be rested before we play Chelsea on the weekend.
1) Mikel Arteta was missing from the squad to face City yesterday, with Abou Diaby drafted in as his replacement on his return from injury. After the game Arsene Wenger confirmed that Arteta is out for 3 weeks with a groin injury. There was no mention of why Tomas Rosicky was not on the bench.
2) Finding “players of a calibre of Arteta, available in January” is very hard. With Arteta injured & Diaby injury prone, Arsenal almost definitely need to sign a new midfielder in January. However, the longer that the transfer window is open and we don’t make any signings the more worried I am becoming.
3) Abou Diaby needs some time to settle in (again). Diaby played ok on his return from injury (- he made a few good tackles and interceptions), but his passing was very poor. He needs to look up before he decides where he is going to put the ball. It is good to have his physical presence, but we need more from him in Arteta’s absence. He will need a few games though.
4) A mixed day for Wojciech Szczesny. Our keeper saved a penalty and played well to stop Carlos Tevez going around him, but his distribution really let him down. His kicking was very poor, and he waits for way too long on the ball, tempting the opposition to press him. One of these days he is going to misjudge his timing and make a hideous mistake. It also makes it very difficult for Arsenal to play on the counter attack.
5) Laurent Koscielny deserved a red card. At the time I felt that the sending off was a bit unfair; Mike Dean had essentially killed of the game as a spectacle before it had started. However, having seen the replays and spoken about it with friends I understand that 1) it’s not up to the referee to ensure that the game is a spectacle and 2) according to the letter of the law there was no choice but to send him off. The rugby tackle that Koscielny performed on Dzeko was risible and he will have to accept the 3-game ban.
6) Vincent Kompany maybe did not deserve to see red. Again, at the time (in the stadium) it looked like a bad tackle. Kompany definitely got the ball and says that Wilshere overran it, making a collision inevitable. However, others are saying that it was a dangerous challenge because he did have both feet off the ground. City are appealing the card and I have a feeling that it will be overturned.
Arsenal.com have revealed the 18-man squad that will travel to Greece to face Olympiacos in the Champions League. There is still the possibility that Arsenal can top group B, but with Schalke likely to win against Montpellier (who took only 1 points from the opening 5 fixtures) Arsene Wenger has decided to rest many of our regular first-team players, some of whom have been classed as “injured”. When the squad contains 7 players with shirt numbers over 30, you know that Wenger isn’t taking this game too seriously.
The squad to face Olympiakos includes unused players like Maroune Chamakh and Sebastian Squillaci, as well as 5 players who could make their first-team debuts - Zak Ansah, Sead Hajrovic, Elton Monteiro, Chuba Akpom and James Shea. What I find particularly interesting is that the likes of Ignasi Miquel, Serge Gnabry and Thomas Eisfeld are not included for various reasons. *Update – I do realise that Eisfeld is not eligible for the Champions League, I am simply surprised that he was not selected at all for the competition.
“Some players needed a rest because they were a bit on the fringe of injury, and some players are injured.
“When I count the injured players I speak about Podolski and Walcott. We needed to rest Wilshere, 100 per cent, and Cazorla, Arteta and Mertesacker played many games recently. They have been rested.
“It is [to avoid fatigue], and we have one luxury, that we can do it. But we have as well one necessity, to win the game tomorrow night. I tried to find the right balance between resting some players and as well having a competitive team tomorrow night.”
Arsenal lost 3-1 to Olympacos at exactly the same stage in the competition last year and in similar circumstances. Yossi Benayoun scored Arsenal’s only goal of the team, but nobody really cared. As far as I am concerned, we still need a good performance tomorrow. Even though it is somewhat of a “reserve” team, it is important to start stringing together a few wins and a loss will only further damage the team’s confidence. I understand that many of the players (I am thinking in particular of Wilshere, Cazorla & Arteta needed a rest), so Wenger needs to find the right balance between fresh players and experience with the squad that he has chosen.
1 Wojciech Szczesny, 5 Thomas Vermaelen, 7 Tomas Rosicky, 15 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 16 Aaron Ramsey, 18 Sebastien Squillaci, 22 Francis Coquelin, 23 Andrey Arshavin, 25 Carl Jenkinson, 27 Gervinho, 29 Marouane Chamakh, 38 Martin Angha, 39 Zak Ansah, 48 Sead Hajrovic, 53 Jernade Meade, 55 Elton Monteiro, 60 James Shea, 67 Chuba Akpom.
A full match-preview, including injury news (when it is available) and our predicted starting XI will be published shortly.
*This is a guest blog post submitted by fellow Gooner Travis Barker. If you would like to be a guest blogger on Straight talking Gooners then please send us an email with an interesting article and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Arsene Wenger is a man that the majority of Arsenal fans admire deeply, not only for the philosophy of majestic and tactically beautiful football which attracted me to Arsenal FC all those years ago, but also the infrastructure that he and many others at the club have helped put in place today.
There is no doubt that for 15 years Arsene has been the heartbeat for AFC and the teams he has produced have played to a once thought unreachable level. I’m talking about 49 games unbeaten – never did I think I would behold such a season but come the 2003/04 season we hit the peak of our powers. Fast forward to the 2012/13 season and things are starting to look a little bit shaky; not bad, but not where we want to be.
Now this change in the air that I’m alluding to in the title is not one of over-throwing our beloved French footballing maestro but rather a change in tactics. Over the beginning of this season it is undoubtedly clear that Steve Bould has had a monumental effect on the Arsenal defensive frailties of last years blunder-full season. We are now being touted as the best defence in the premier league in this current campaign. There are of course negative effects to his influence though, where organisation and shape discipline have taken precedence over Arsenals previous free-roaming flamboyant style of play. To the extent where when in possession of the ball players will stand and wait in their pre-situated formational shape because thats where they have been told to be and hold the ball, most likely to create space (which it does). But when everyones trying to create it…who’s moving into it?
Boulds influence is good but not for Arsene’s attacking 4-3-3 formation where players holding advanced positions in slow moving build up play can often leave us wanting at the back. Therefore amidst the already pre-existing change occurring with the Bould effect surely tactics could be better thought out to adapt to the changing environment of the premier league. So as shocking as it may seem to some Arsenal fans i am suggesting a change of formation coupled with freeform attacking movement.
1.This formation allows for Giroud and Podolski to dictate how much space is available for the midfield 4 to work in. For example, if giroud is standing on the 18 yard box between LCB and LB this would create space by distracting LCB and LB allowing Theo, Wilshire, Sagna and Arteta to try and move the ball between the oppositions LM and LCM.
2.With the wingers dropped back to a now more defensive formational shape we are less susceptible to the treat of a counter attack.
3.When Arteta is in possession of the ball in the current 4-3-3 formation he can only go left to the LCM or right to the RCM as the front three are two advanced standing on the toes of the opposition defence leaving him with just one team mate either side. However in this formation if he choses left he’s not only got the LCM but the CAM and the same can be said for the right.
4.Two strikers playing in close proximity opens up a lot of opportunities in front of goals as the runs they make will draw defenders away from key areas opening up massive amounts of space as apposed to Giroud making a run being heavily marked by two CB’s and no one profits from the space left behind.
5.This formation also gives rise to not only a valuable partnership upfront with two strong, powerful strikers but also a trio-ship with the silky smooth skills of our CAM added into the mix. It allows close proximity triangles to easily form (- its called the diamond formation for gosh sake) just through the basic formational shape, giving rise to a fast moving free forming style of play that Arsenal fans so loved.
There are many more points on why this formation should be held in conversation between Arsene and Bould but i think 5 is enough at this moment in time. There are also many reasons why the 4-3-3 formation we have in place currently has resulted in such stagnant football over the last 4-5 years but thats another story for another time. I’ve babbled on nonsensically for quite enough.
Arsenal.com have revealed the Arsenal Starting XI and substitutes that will take on Manchester United at Old Trafford in just under 1 hours time.
Andre Santos vs Antonio Valencia does worry me hugely, while Bacary Sagna is back in the team at the expense of Carl Jenkinson. The midfield three of Wilshere, Cazorla and Arteta is pretty amazing. It is unfortunate that Theo Walcott played the full 120 minutes against Reading otherwise I am sure that he would have started ahead of Aaron Ramsey. Olivier Giroud gets his start; there was no way that we could leave him out after his performance on Tuesday against Reading.
Arsenal & United have met 215 times in all competitions. United have only lost to Arsenal once in the last 10 games against us, which is not the most fantastic record.
Our chances of keeping a clean-sheet are pretty slim. We have had a pretty poor defensive record over our last 11 matches and United have scored in each of their last 53 Premier League home games.
Despite losing 8-2 this time last year, it was the first time that we had scored more than one goal at Old Trafford under Arsene Wenger (& I think in the Premier League era). Our last win at Old Trafford was all the way back in 2006, when Emmanuel Adebayor scored the winner.
Don’t expect Arsenal to come out with all guns blazing. According to BBC Sport, we have scored only 1 goal in the opening 30 minutes this season, less than any other team in the Premier League. It’s not something that I had actually noticed, but we seem to make up for it in the last 10 or 15 minutes.
The BBC also says that we are 1 of only 4 clubs that have not dropped points from a winning position this season, which is pretty promising.
* I realise that some of these stats are not particularly positive or promising, but hopefully we can change that this afternoon. This match represents the perfect opportunity for us to claw back some much needed points from one of our biggest rivals and a win would give the team a huge confidence boost that could finally see us get a string of good results. A draw would not be the most terrible result, but a loss would be pretty damaging.
1) As I stated in my post-match article, the international break and a few injuries are not an excuse for losing to Norwich. Chelsea, City and United all managed wins and they had an equal number of players on international duty.
2) This was not a one-off loss; these sorts of losses have not been uncommon in the past few years. Inconsistency has cost us for the last 7 seasons. What was different and most frustrating on Saturday, however, was the clear lack of effort and interest from many of the players. The performance was as far from the second-half performance vs West Ham as you could possibly imagine. In my opinion, it is 50/50 as to which Arsenal side turn up. Either we trot out a 4- or 5-1 win (we always seem to concede…), or we struggle from the beginning because nobody shows up.
3) This was the 4th consecutive league game where we have gone behind and the 8th consecutive game where we haven’t kept a clean sheet. We are still very susceptible to set-pieces and zonal-marking from corners is an absolute disaster. The 3 clean sheets at the beginning of the season (vs Sunderland, Stoke and Liverpool) are a distant memory.
4) Arsenal can’t rely on Santi Cazorla as the get-out-of-jail-free card. As fantastic as Cazorla is, no player can put in MOTM performances every week. If Cazorla isn’t on song (not that he was bad against Norwich) then somebody else needs to step up. The same can be said of Mikel Arteta, who actually won the MOTM accolade on Arsenal.com
5) Gervinho’s wing-play is extremely one-dimensional and very frustrating. He may have scored a few goals playing in the middle, but he looks completely lost in the wide position. Every time there was an opportunity to create something for Giroud, Gervinho would try to run past everybody and inevitably give the ball away. He also apparently doesn’t know how to stay onside. Lukas Podolski is also much more effective in the middle, although not nearly as frustrating as Gervinho on the wing.
6) Olivier Giroud can’t create chances out of thin air. I actually can’t blame Giroud for not taking many shots – he barely touched the ball. Gervinho was refusing to pass and when crosses did make it into the box they were normally quite poor. Maybe it’s time that we revert to a 4-4-2 formation? I think that Giroud would be infinitely more effective if he had a strike partner (enter Lukas Podolski).
7) Vito Mannone only had a handful of saves to make, but he made everything much more difficult than it needed to be. Norwich’s goal could have been avoided if Vito had palmed the shot to either side instead of straight back into the middle of the box. I know that Alexander Tettey’s shot was quite powerful, but still… Mannone also did an Almunia impression when he chased the ball to the edge of the box. I was waiting to concede our second.
8) Alex Tettey’s long-range shot led to a goal. Why didn’t Arsenal try that? The only time that I saw any Arsenal player attempt a shot from outside the box was Mikel Arteta right at the end, and it was probably our best opportunity of the game. All you have to do is get the shot on target – if it’s hard enough then the keeper might fumble it or it will fall kindly to one of your players. Norwich showed us how this is done. Arteta and Cazorla do normally try a few long-shots, but I would like to see them more often.
9) This loss leaves us in 9th place after 8 games and 10 points behind Chelsea – that’s hardly the fantastic start to the season that we needed! Arsenal can’t rely on hanging in there based on consistent Champions League & Wenger’s previous successes. If we don’t finish in the top four then it becomes increasingly difficult to claw our way back to the top. It’s a vicious cycle – you only have to look at Liverpool as evidence.
10) Arsene Wenger has confirmed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is out of Wednesday night’s game against Schalke. AOC only played for less than ten minutes against Norwich before he became a substituted substitute. There is also bad news for Walcott and Gibbs:
“It was a kick on his hip. It is not long-term but he will be out for Wednesday.
“I don’t see anyone new being [back] for Wednesday night. The closest will be Gibbs but he will not be ready. Walcott will not be ready [either].”
We will have the latest injury news after Wenger’s pre-match press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
11) The game was “too intense” for Jack Wilshere’s comeback after 14 months. Jack will have to wait for another week, as I doubt that he will play against Schalke either. However, he did play the full 90 minutes for the U21′s against Everton on Monday afternoon, grabbing an assist for Tomas Eisfeld’s second goal.
“We have to be conscious he has not played for 14 months. I would have brought him on if the game had allowed it today but it was too intense.”
Arsenal came from a goal down yesterday to earn a hard-fought 3-1 win over West Ham at Upton Park. A goal just before half-time from Olivier Giroud cancelled out Mohamed Diame’s solo effort and goals from substitute Theo Walcott and the superb Santi Cazorla sealed the win. Below are some of my thoughts on the game:
1) West Ham made Arsenal work very hard for the victory, but we got there in the end. The Hammers have started the season well and gave us a bit of a scare when Mohammed Diame confused/wrong-footed Aaron Ramsey and curled the ball in from the left side of the box. Per Mertesacker could maybe have closed him down a bit more quickly, and Arsenal had failed to score with 4 or 5 efforts on goal at the other end beforehand, but credit where credit is due. Diame’s first goal for West Ham was pretty special.
“We weakened a bit physically in the second half but overall it was a very important test for us today. We expected a difficult game. We were not disappointed – a game with a lot of pace, where both teams went for it in different styles. It was a good test mentally as well, because we went 1-0 down with their first shot on goal. We came back and won this game. You could say that we had a good performance today overall.”
2) Mohammed Diame was very lucky not to have been sent off. Both Diame and later Theo Walcott were given yellow cards for running into the crowd to celebrate their goals, which I find slightly ridiculous. This is definitely something that the FA should reassess. However, the fact remains that Diame was already on a yellow when he made a bad challenge on Mikel Arteta only a few minutes after he had opened the scoring. I simply can’t see how referee Phil Dowd can justify not giving him a second yellow card for that challenge.
3) Olivier Giroud’s goal shows how important he can be for Arsenal this season. The Frenchman finally announced his arrival in the Premier League in style, with the kind of goal-poachers effort that we very rarely get to see at Arsenal. The replay on ESPN showed just how far he had run to make sure that he got on the end of Lukas Podolski’s cross. Giroud’s movement is fantastic, his hold-up play and arial ability are unlike anything we have seen at Arsenal for a few seasons, and I am sure that this goal will give him the all of the confidence that he needs to pursue a long and prosperous career in North London.
“In similar situations he nearly scored like that against Olympiacos on Wednesday night. He was good today. He had the physical presence and scored the goal. That will help him a lot I think to adapt very quickly.”
4) Arsenal couldn’t deal with the arial threat of Andy Carroll. Carroll was fierce in the air and was at the focal point of many of West Ham’s attacks, even with Per Mertesacker in the team. We can be very glad that Mannone made some good saves and that Kevin Nolan squandered an opportunity from a flicked-on header.
“You never can completely control Carroll for 90 minutes. You have to fight for him and be good on the second ball. The problem with West Ham is not only Carroll, but is [also] Nolan on the second ball in the box. We could have been punished once or twice but overall we gave it all to deal well with him. He [Carroll] was really up for it I must say. He did fight from the first to the last minute.”
5) Mikel Arteta is the best passer in Europe. According to the ESPN, Mikel Arteta has made the most passes this season out of any player in any top division in Europe. I am not sure exactly where they get this stat from (it must take hours to analyse every player in Europe!), but ESPN stats are normally quite reliable and this is a stat that I have no problem believing. His passing yesterday was, as usual, superb, and he really dictates the play from that deeper midfield role. He also gives players like Santi Cazorla (who I will talk about later) a bit more creative freedom than they might have in other teams. The fact that Mikel hasn’t made a single appearance for the Spanish national team is a travesty and is a testament to the likes of Xavi and Iniesta. I honestly think that if Arteta was playing in Spain he would have been given a chance in the national team. The fact that he is in the Premier League (and previously the SPL) means that he doesn’t get as much of a look-in.
1) The scoreline was much better than the performance. Arsenal were not exactly at their best last night, especially in the first half. Going forward we were ok; we created enough chances but it took until the 42nd minute for Gervinho to open the scoring. However, the midfield was very crowded, Olympiakos closed down very quickly, and we could easily have conceded inside the opening 10 minutes. We were defensively poor, gave the ball away a lot, and we can count ourselves very lucky to have come away with all three points. The second half was marginally better and I must stress that certain players (Gervinho, Podolski, Cazorla, Gibbs, Jenkinson in particular) did put in some good performances!
2) The Koscielny/Vermaelen partnership does not work particularly well. As soon as I saw the teamsheet I was amazed that Per Mertesacker had been left out of the squad completely. In the end, it turned out that Wenger had chosen to start Koscielny because Mertesacker has a bout of flu.
Both Koscielny and Vermaelen have had very mixed starts to the season. Both our centre-backs looked lackadaisical and both players threw themselves into a few too many silly challenges when they were caught out of position or were just not concentrating. Yes, Laurent did grab a late equaliser against City, but he has made quite a few silly mistakes and was poor yesterday evening. Vermaelen needs to stay back more rather than bombing forward at every available opportunity. While I appreciate his enthusiasm, that’s not his job!
3) Despite poor performances from our centre-backs, the full-backs were a completely different story. Both Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson played brilliantly yesterday evening. Gibbs links really well with Lukas Podolski down the left-hand-side and it always an attacking threat. Jenkinson has surprised me this season. When we knew that Bacary Sagna was injured I was slightly worried about the right-back position. However, Carl has been a revelation. He defends really well and his attacking play is equally excellent. His crossing ability in particular has attracted my attention as it is so much better than Sagna’s. Gibbs has earned a call-up to the England squad for the upcoming October international fixtures, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Jenkinson gets his call-up before the end of the season.
4) Gervinho and Podolski work really well together. In particular I was impressed with Gervinho’s goal because it showed a different side to his game. It was a cool and composed finish and you have to give him a lot of credit. His movement is very good and he grabbed a nice assist for Podolski’s goal. Lukas’s movement is equally magical and I am sure that the pair will notch up quite a few goals between them this season.
5) Francis Coquelin needs to step up him game. With Abou Diaby injured for a few weeks and Jack Wilshere not back in the team, this is Coquelin’s opportunity to show what he is made of. His performance last night was nothing special and he has to be aware that he has a lot of competition from Emmanuel Frimpong and Aaron Ramsey.
Arsenal.com have revealed the Arsenal Starting XI & substitutes for tonight’s Champions League game against Olympiakos.
What is immediately obvious when looking at the starting line-up is that Olivier Giroud misses out yet again. I am sure that he will make an appearance at some point. He will just have to hope that it’s more than 15 minutes. The other big news is that Mikel Arteta has passed a late fitness test and is included in the team. There is, of course, no Abou Diaby because of injury. Originally I thought that Per Mertesacker has been rested, but the rumours on Twitter are that he is suffering from flu.